GONZALES — The National Weather Service added the metro New Orleans area to an afternoon tornado watch Friday as a lone super cell continues to rake across south Louisiana, dropping baseball-sized hail and bringing high winds.
Robert Ricks, forecaster with the New Orleans-Baton Rouge office in Slidell, said Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes were added to the watch shortly after 5 p.m. The watch is expected to end at 8 p.m.
“It looks like the threat will be diminished with sunset,” Ricks said.
The storm already appears to have cleared Ascension, Assumption, Iberville and other parts of the Baton Rouge area and was moving out of St. James Parish and into lower St. John the Baptist Parish about 5:30 p.m.
Ricks said the Weather Service had received two reports of severe wind earlier Friday in Breaux Bridge and in Iberville Parish.
Ricks said he believes the Iberville report was probably the result of straight line winds and not a tornado, based on the manner in which trees were knocked down.
But he said reports from Breaux Bridge included “baseball-sized” hail falling and vehicles being overturned at 3:37 p.m.
He said the Weather Service’s Lake Charles office will investigate that report for a possible tornado.
Earlier on Friday, the Weather Service predicted severe weather across south and central Louisiana through the evening with large hail, damaging wind gusts up to 70 mph and isolated tornados.
In addition to metro New Orleans, local parishes under the tornado watch until 8 p.m. are Ascension, Assumption, Iberville, Lafourche, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist and Terrebonne.
The watch was called about 3:15 p.m.
A watch means weather conditions are favorable for a tornado and is a step below a warning, which means a tornado is imminent.
The Weather Service earlier called tornado watches for parts of central Louisiana and Acadiana that were expected to end at 6 p.m.